The Neosho Lady Wildcats were still within striking distance when the fourth quarter rolled around, but the Nixa Lady Eagles hit their free throws down the stretch to seal a 54-40 victory in the Central Ozark Conference large division opener at NHS on Monday.
Nixa opened the game by grabbing a 12-5 lead in the first quarter, and stretched that lead to 27-13 by halftime.
Neosho’s offense came alive in the second half, however, as the Lady Wildcats scored 15 in the third and 12 in the fourth quarter. But Nixa remained consistent as they scored 12, 15, 13 and 14 points in their four quarters.
With the deficit in the single digits for most of the fourth quarter, the Lady Wildcats remained a couple of possessions away from making it a one-possession game for the majority of the final period, but when forced to foul late the Lady Eagles knocked down their foul shots and began to pull away.
Gina Raper teamed with teammate Angie Allen to provide most of the offensive punch for the Lady Eagles. Raper poured in 15 points to lead the team while Allen finished with 13. Madison Wells also factored into double figures with 10 points while Tasha Leavitt added nine, Kayla Copeland two and Alex Sorenson five.
A force inside the paint, Morgan Rogers led Neosho with 10 points while Matty Liedtke chipped in eight, Corea Lowery and Chelsey Henry seven each, Morgan Rathmann six and Whitney Wise two.
The loss dropped the Lady Wildcats to 6-7 overall, 0-1 in the COC.
The Lady Wildcats go to Carl Junction for a showdown at 6 p.m. Friday.
Nixa also won the junior varsity game, 39-29. Chelsei Marion led the Lady Wildcats with nine points in the game.